Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Biting Off and Practicing Chewing

I'm not good with nebulous goals. I'm not sure that any of us are. Tell me to become a better cook, I have no idea how I'll know when I've succeeded. Tell me to master the techniques for duck l'orange, crab cakes, and chocolate souffle, and I can reach for that. If I wanted to set a goal of cleaning and organizing the house, I'd have to reword it as something like, "Sort through belongings, determine a set of criteria for what stays and what goes, find a home for each thing that stays, and clean each room from ceiling to floor." That goal has more meaning and will be more easily measured.

So six years ago, when Vic and I talked about getting in better shape, I knew that was a great idea and definitely something I needed to do, but I've never been very successful in the long term about health and fitness. "Get in shape" was always too vague. Hmm, what to set as a goal?

Complete a triathlon. Sounded daunting, but I knew a friend who had trained for, completed, and really enjoyed a sprint-distance triathlon, and I thought I might be able to work toward that. Two friends, and the friend of a friend, joined in the journey, and we all reached our goal less than a year later. The training was the real journey -- learning to swim crawl stroke, getting used to biking, starting to develop the leg strength and lung capacity for running. The actual race day was the reward. (Oh, and better fitness both then and during my subsequent pregnancies.)


Fast-forward two kids and four years later. Grace and Miles weren't babies anymore, I'd moved into my 40s, and it was time to consider a new goal for getting healthier and stronger. The variety involved in triathlon training had worked well for me before and I'd been surprised to find that I actually enjoyed the exercise (most of the time anyway -- you know, once I'd convinced myself to get up, put on whatever gear I needed, and get going). What would be my new, longer term fitness goal?

Ironman.

Ironman? The triathlon they show on TV once a year? The one where the winners take eight or nine hours and the people who barely drag themselves across the finish line do so in 16 hours and 59 minutes? The race that involves a total of 140.6 miles? Yep, that one. Although, to be clear, I should mention that they televise the World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, and the only way I'll get to that particular Ironman race is if I win a spot in their lottery, which is ridiculously unlikely. And in what world do you call it winning the lottery when your prize is paying a $700 entrance fee to exercise at your physical limit for up to 17 hours? But yes, the same distance as that one.

I suppose there are people who set a goal to complete an Ironman triathlon, train for it, and finish it all in one year. I'm not one of those people. About a year ago I decided on this goal, and immediately set about breaking it down into more manageable chunks. There are four common triathlon lengths, so I figure I'll work my way up through them as I get stronger:
  • sprint = 800 meter swim, 12-14 mile bicycle, 5k run
  • Olympic = 1500 meter swim, 25 mile bicycle, 10k run
  • half-iron = 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bicycle, 13.1 mile run
  • iron = 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bicycle, 26.2 mile run
This past summer saw me complete a sprint tri and an Olympic. The latter, I must admit, I spent the entire race in dead last until the final mile. I'm never going to win a race, and one of the things I love about triathlon is that the vast majority of us triathletes are out there doing races to compete with ourselves, do better than we did last time. But my set of goals for each race goes something like this: 1) I want to finish the race, 2) I want to not be last, and 3) I want to finish in a set time. So I've got a lot of training to do if I want to avoid a repeat of my near-dead-last performance.

Since registering recently for my main summer 2013 race -- Ironman 70.3 Lake Stevens -- I've been working out a training schedule, freaking out, wondering if I've bitten off more than I can chew. But I'm going to do it. A half-iron triathlon. July 21, 2013, from 7:00am to whenever I finish in the afternoon.

Now you know, and now I have to do it.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Miles and Grace Recommend...

As I stand here gazing across a living room that has a "just moved in" look -- blank walls, empty spaces, furniture in odd spots, boxes and bins of things -- while I am not fond of the feeling that brings, I have to be thankful for two strong, healthy kids with strong, curious minds.

The furniture is all out of place because Grace and Miles like to jump off chairs onto Grace's big red beanbag and, with hardwood floors, things slide.

The blank walls are completely my own fault. Three years later, I still cannot decide on a room arrangement and therefore a wall art arrangement.

The boxes and bins of things (and lots of things strewn about, not in bins or boxes) are entirely made up of toys and books. About every six months, I sort through all of the kids' stuff, donate any clothes, books, or toys they've outgrown (or which I simply cannot stand anymore), pull out anything I've been saving for which they're now old enough, and organize. As of this week, we officially have too many children's books. And we use the library often. Really often.

So as we sort books, I am coming across many that have been favorites and will not be donated. Here are just a few series we're loving lately.

Poppleton
by Cynthia Rylant / Mark Teague

The main porcine character in these books is funny, silly, a little stodgy, and really big. His friends are great too, especially his llama neighbor, Cherry Sue. We really like that there are three stories in each book.






Dodsworth
by Tim Egan

In the first book, Dodsworth in New York, our hero decides to travel and find adventure. He and the stowaway duck travel to New York, Paris, London, and Rome (so far). We're earnestly hoping that the author will continue. These are great first "chapter books" -- just four chapters per story.





If You Give a...
by Laura Numeroff / Felicia Bond

I'm not even sure how many of these there are (8-10?) but these are storybooks we don't mind reading multiple times. Creative idea for showing cause and effect, along with fun interaction between the main animal characters and the children. The illustrations are wonderful and detailed, good for pointing out little things and asking questions for younger kids.

Someday I'd love to write a post called, "Melinda Recommends," but honestly I spend 80-90% of my reading time in kids' books. Both Grace and Miles are now in preschool two short mornings each week, so maybe I'll get to read grown-up books now...

Monday, April 16, 2012

In Project Mode - Spring Handbag

Another fun Pinterest find... turning a tank top into a hand bag.

I'm a pretty plain person, style-wise. When I look into my dresser or closet, I find a ton of solid black items, gray, brown, white, and navy. I wear the same two pairs of shoes for nearly every occasion, plus an extra pair for running. I have two black purses, a black jacket, and a charcoal gray winter coat. You get the idea. So when I saw the idea of turning a tank top into a purse, my first thought was something pretty plain. Imagine my surprise when I was drawn to this one:


It's definitely a radical departure from the norm for me, but I think that's part of its charm. I like the idea of brightening up an outfit with an accessory, and this one is decidedly brighter than anything else I own. I turned the tank sideways, tucked up the lining to use as pockets, trimmed off a few inches, and sewed the bottom closed. (It took longer than I expected, but really was simple.)  For $4, an hour or two, and some creative energy, this was the end result. I love it!



Friday, March 23, 2012

In Project Mode - Magnetic Letters

I'm a list person. Always have been. The number of to-do lists in my notebooks, calendars, computers, and cell phones over the years has to be in the thousands. (Some of you will understand the depth of my listmania when I say that I write completed projects on the list simply so I can cross them off.)

Months ago a friend told me about pinterest.com and mentioned that it was addictive and time-consuming. I took a look, thought it was a fun idea, but didn't get into using it much. Then, last week, for some reason I took a look again and am now beginning to understand my friend's comment. If you peruse various design, craft, household, or sewing boards, your project list could begin to increase in length exponentially. Thankfully, I've also read several blogs lately which have been encouraging me to stop worrying about the length of my project lists and to start by choosing one thing and accomplishing it. Today, I choose a magnetic letter board for Miles.

Miles knows his letters and the sounds they make, but is a scary home decorator with crayons or pens. How to let him play with touching letters and manipulating them without having a new and undesired mural on our living room wall? A magnetic letter board. Our fridge will not hold magnets so I had to come up with another option. Pinterest brought up an idea and, since I had all the components, I decided to try it.

Ancient IKEA tart pan (used as a cookie sheet for 6-8 years) + SOS pad + charcoal gray Rustoleum spray paint (a bright color would be more fun but that's what I had)....


becomes....


a magnetic letter board! For now, I think we'll use it as a tray on our laps until we decide where to hang it. If we're willing for a letter or two to be lost, it might even work as an on-the-go toy to keep in the van.

 
I'm in project mode, so stay tuned.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Farewell to Some Old Friends

It's January. When I undecorate from Christmas, I like to consider moving furniture, cleaning, decluttering, and reorganizing. January seems like a good time for this, with little else on the calendar and a blank slate after holiday decorations are stored away for another year. Caring for Grace and Miles leaves a lot less time on my hands than I'd like sometimes, but I've still been working on a few projects.

Cleaning out my closet was high on my list. I haven't purchased anything new since before Grace was born (except maternity clothes), always thinking I'd make do for a while. Well, Grace is 3 1/2, Miles is nearly two years old, and I think my "while" is up. I've never been one to own lots and lots of clothes, shoes, purses, accessories, anything like that. I still manage, however, to have plenty of things in my dresser drawers that I never wear. Things get too small, too big, too worn. Things are missing buttons, missing drawstrings, missing coordinating items. Some things are perfectly wonderful -- but not suitable for a stay-at-home mom. Time to reevaluate.

I've cleared quite a bit of space and now must do laundry about every third day so I don't run out of clothes to wear. (A few strategic purchases are in order.) Lots of things have been donated to thrift stores. But I have a pair of old friends I'm unwilling to donate to a stranger.


These black, size 7.5 or 8, London-purchased Dr. Martens have walked the streets of Europe, Asia, and the U.S.  They've been worn with jeans and with a bridesmaid gown. I've never seen another pair like them. They're in great shape, and only my pregnancy-induced shoe size change could make me part with them. But I'd like for them to go to a good home where they'd be loved and well-worn. Any takers?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Long Time No See

One cookie and three servings of frozen blueberries later...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Vital Statistics

Grace and Miles visited the doctor this week for a 3-year and 18-month checkup, respectively, and are in great shape (more than could probably be said for their parents right now).


Grace
3 yrs 2 mos
32.2 lbs (60th percentile)
40.5 inches (96th percentile)









Miles
1 yr 6 mos
33.2 lbs (99th percentile)
35.5 inches (99th percentile)







If we ate what our kids eat, and got as much exercise as they do, we'd be in great shape too. For the moment, we content ourselves with knowing that every time we lift one of them, it counts as a few bicep curls; each time we carry one of them upstairs, it's better than a stairclimbing machine. And we enjoy a yummy dessert regularly to reward ourselves for our hard work.